Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols


True Cellular Detox

Exercise, eating clean, counting calories, counting steps, and watching the number on the scale go up! Grrrrrr!!!!!! This has been my life for the past 5 years. I would lose 5-10 pounds but never anything more. I never had this problem until after I was on 8 weeks of bedrest during my second pregnancy. During this time, I gained 80 pounds, and after he was born, I was exhausted and was never able to achieve any real weight loss results. I've tried and given it my all for nearly 5 years. I went to my physician, and they would tell me I was an excellent candidate for weight loss surgery or would offer diet pills, which when you have epilepsy, do more harm than good. I didn't want a quick fix. I was willing to do the work. I just wanted to know why! Why, despite all my efforts, can I not lose weight, and why do I feel exhausted, ill, and just plain sick?

Fast forward to July 28, and I emotionally met with Dr. Bart Precourt and the staff at Balance 30A in Seagrove Beach, FL. Dr. Bart has helped my parents find an all-natural way to maintain their health as they grow older, and my mom suggested that he could help me too. It was emotional, because I had struggled for so long. After extensive testing, we discovered that my hormones were so far out of whack, which happened during the bed rest nearly five years ago, that my body was filled with inflammation. Dr. Bart explained that when the cells needed certain vitamins and minerals, despite my choice to eat healthy, the cells couldn't absorb the nutrients they needed because of the inflammation, and my body didn't know what to do with what I ate, except store it as fat.

Please understand that I, in no way, am saying that my weight gain was completely hormonal. I did make some poor choices, because I was so overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted with no results, despite my best efforts as well as dealing with the stresses and challenges life has presented us. Some of this was my fault. Everything is a choice!

Dr. Bart and his staff are so kind and compassionate. From the moment you walk in the door, you feel like these people genuinely want to help you. That was such a comfort as well as an answer to prayer. After my appointment, I told my mom that for the first time, I felt like there was actual hope for me to be healthy again. I cannot put into words what a comfort that is.

Two weeks prior to my appointment, I had made the decision to begin a morning exercise routine and revisit our previous clean eating habits. So, I was already headed in the right direction to prepare my body for the treatment. How do you treat this? Well, you rid your body and brain of all the toxins that have caused this inflammation and are keeping my body from functioning properly. For me, it's going to be at least a 100 day process.

For the first ten days, I continued waking up every morning at 5am to exercise and ate no gluten, no sugar, no red meat, no dairy, and drinking only water, which is all my family has drank for the last two years. So, that part wasn't difficult. I was also taking Standard Process supplements, which Dr. Bart sells at Balance, three times each day. Literally three days into this, I felt like a new person. I've told many people, "You never know just how sick you actually were until you begin to feel better."

The next 90 days will be divided into three phases: Prep Phase, Body Phase, and Brain Phase. These three phases make up the True Cellular Detox. You begin by completing an online training course, to familiarize yourself with the program as well as to explain what's going on in your body, and how each phase is going to affect your body. I began Prep Phase today. My morning was greeted with some of the suggested yoga poses, breathing exercises, and a burst workout, which is recommended in the training videos. I haven't been hungry or miserable at all, due to the filling Ketogenic type diet. I've felt satisfied, hopeful, optimistic, and excited.

Each phase will last 30 days, and I will consult with Dr. Bart at the end of each phase, where we will recheck my toxicity levels and progress through various testing and measurements. He and his staff have made themselves available at anytime to me, which again shows their dedication to helping people be healthy as well as their care and compassion.

I'm so thankful for not only Dr. Bart and the Balance 30A team but also for my incredible parents that are always willing to share their knowledge and wisdom as well as offer support in any way they can. If my mom had not told me about Dr. Bart and had I not seen the results she and my dad have achieved, I never would have gone. I am also so extremely grateful for a wonderful husband that is so supportive and has finally seen and understood just how sick I was for the last five years. I'm thankful for children that are not picky and eat anything that is cooked, because cooking two separate meals wasn't an option. Hahaha. I'm thankful for the perseverance and will that God has instilled within me to give my everything to this process. I've always been determined, strong, and a hard worker. I'm thankful He made me the way He did.

I will continue to update my blog periodically throughout each phase and post results as I see them. If anyone reading this has ever felt hopeless when it comes to your health, I encourage you to contact Dr. Bart and his staff at Balance 30A, because they can help you and want to help you.

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A Huge Thank You

I’m writing this post to say, “thank you” to everyone who has helped support me in raising funds for my upcoming mission trip to Austin, Tx.

To those of you that purchased homemade savory and sweet treats from me during the holidays, thank you. I love to bake, and each item was prayed over and cooked with love. Thanks your kindness and generosity, I was able to raise just under $300 for my trip.

To my precious church family, thank you so much! Whether you chose us to wrap your Christmas gifts, dined with us at our fundraiser meal, donated baked items to our baked goods auction, bid on baked goods, or donated to our recent love offering, your support was monumental. It is a blessing to be part of such a loving and generous church family.

To my family and friends that chose to simply donate money to my trip, I love you all so much, and I’m so thankful for your selfless generosity.

However you chose to give, I’m so incredibly thankful. When God laid this trip on my heart last summer, I knew He would provide, because that’s who He is! It humbles me and leaves me in awe of my God to report that my entire trip (lodging, transportation, and food) is completely paid for through your generosity.

Some have asked specifically what we will be doing. Since we will covet your specific prayers each day, here is our schedule:

Sunday,  June 11- travel day! We will leave Dothan at 5am and arrive in Austin at approximately 8:30pm

Monday, June 12- orientation at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center in the morning followed by ministering to patients at the center in the afternoon.

Tuesday, June 13- praying and witnessing at Planned Parenthood. This will be an emotionally and spiritually challenging day. We covet your prayers!!!

Wednesday, June 14- working at the APRC in the morning and we will be kicking off their on-campus outreach ministry at the University of Texas-Austin that afternoon

Thursday, June 15- we will be restocking the center and making house calls to those that are without transportation.

Friday, June 16- we will be working with patients at the center in the morning and continuing our on-campus outreach in the afternoon.

I ask you to specifically pray for lives to be changed both spiritually and physically. I ask you to pray that God will use our stories of teen pregnancy, single parenthood, adoption, and infertility to give hope to these ladies in such a hopeless situation. I ask that you also pray for God to grow and change me on this trip. I owe everything to Him, and I want to be my best for Him as well as for my family. 

I’m so thankful for each lady that He has clearly hand-picked for this trip, and I look forward to serving with them as well as my new friends at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center. Thank you all again for your overwhelming support. I can’t wait to come back and share with you all what awesome things God did in Austin!โค๏ธ

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Nichols Take D.C.

So, it has been a while, and what better to write about than our recent spring break vacation to Washington D.C.? This was, by far, the best vacation we’ve ever taken. I strongly encourage everyone to make this trip during their lifetime. The great thing is, it is a relatively inexpensive trip. As you travel with me through this blog post, I will give you the breakdown of how to do D.C. on a budget.

Our trip began by driving to Hampton, VA, to visit Adam’s brother and his family. This was such a special visit. Both Banks and Weston adored getting to spend time with their cousins. When we left, Weston cried and said, “I never ever want to leave my cousins or their house.” I’m so thankful for the bonds of friendship that were made between these cousins. 

We arrived at our hotel, The Courtyard by Marriott at Tyson’s Corner, on Sunday night. We are so blessed that Adam works for Marriott, and we are able to take advantage of the discounts provided by his company. We booked this hotel in December, based on a Marriott manager’s discount special, and we only paid $39/night and $10/day for parking. This hotel is approximately 20 miles from D.C., and if you know anything about the traffic there, you know it would take you at least an hour and a half to drive that distance everyday. Thankfully, there are Metro stations all around, and our hotel offered a shuttle that dropped us off each morning and picked us up each night at the Spring Hill Metro Station. So, we never even had to move our vehicle until we left to drive home on Thursday. The Metro is tons of fun, especially if you are a people watcher. We put $10/day on each of our Smartrip cards, and that took us everywhere we needed to go throughout D.C. and Virginia. Weston rode for free due to his age, and we had the Metro figured out by the end of day one.

We knew we had a lot to fit into three days. So, we woke up early, and in an effort to save money on our trip, I packed assorted cereals, plastic bowls, and plastic spoons, and a gallon of milk for us to eat breakfast in the room each morning. I also brought a loaf of bread, chips, ziplock bags, and a pan of brownies I had made before we left to pack a lunch each day. There are parks, benches, and picnic tables everywhere that allowed for a good lunch spot each day, and it also meant we would only be responsible for buying one meal each day. 

We began day one with a visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. I think you could spend all three days in this one Museum and not see everything. Weston loved it! We tried to gear our morning visits more toward him in hopes that he would take a nap each afternoon. This Museum is the home to everything from ancient fossils to the Hope Diamond. Admission to this Museum is free, as are most of the museums in D.C., which helps make this trip so budget-friendly. It was amazing!

After a picnic in the National Mall, we thoroughly enjoyed The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This Museum is home to the Wright Flyer, Amelia Earhart’s plane, missiles, satellites, and WWII fighter planes. This was another of Weston’s favorites. *Sidenote: every museum has water fountains with a place to refill your water bottles, and with all the walking you do, I highly recommend taking refillable water bottles. That way you can refill them as needed. I just carried ours in my backpack everyday along with our lunch.*

Just a short walk up Capitol Hill from the Air and Space Museum, we ended our afternoon by meeting an intern from Representative Martha Roby’s office to receive our tickets to tour the The United States Capitol and sit in on a meeting of the House of Representatives. You will need to email your local State Representative to request these tickets as well as tickets to tour the White House. I recommend emailing your representative approximately 3 months prior to your trip. These slots fill up fast! Just as I had hoped, Weston fell asleep right before we sat in on the House of Representatives. The Capitol tour is fascinating! Every painting, statue, quote from our forefathers, and even the ceiling depict God as being the the foundation of our country. I was blown away at how these Representatives, Senators, and other Government personnel can cross these halls everyday and see proof of God’s hand in our country’s foundation, yet some of them argue and fight to lead us in the complete opposite direction. Mind-blowing, really!

Our tour began at 2p.m., and we didn’t walk out of the Capitol until after 5p.m. So, be prepared for this tour to occupy the majority of your day. Obviously, we were hungry after walking approximately 8 miles on our first day. So, we decided to eat supper at the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl. They have the biggest, most delicious chili dogs I’ve ever had! Their homemade milkshakes are thick and delicious as well. This is literally a hole-in-the-wall hot dog stand in a sketchy part of town, but it was delicious and totally worth all the hype! Be prepared to wait in line, and there’s very little seating here. So, if you’re traveling as a family, you probably won’t sit together to eat. Adam and Weston sat at a small table while Banks and I sat beside perfect strangers at the bar. After we all finished, it was close to 8p.m., and we knew we still had a thirty minute Metro ride back to our hotel in Virginia. So, that brought our day one to an end.

Up and ready for a great Day 2, we took the Metro into D.C. and immediately went to the Holocaust Museum to get our tickets. They give you a time to tour the museum. We got our tickets when they opened at 10a.m., and our tour time was 3p.m. So, don’t go to this Museum thinking you will be able to tour at that exact time. While we waited for 3p.m., we went to the White House for a few pictures and then over to Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum. This Museum is expensive and absolutely NOT worth the money you pay. This was probably our only regret of the trip. Don’t get me wrong, the sculptures are amazing, but it literally cost $80 for our family to go through, and it took us maybe 15 minutes to see and read everything. I do not recommend wasting your time and money here. After our disappointment, we knew we were only about 2 blocks from Ford’s Theatre. So, we walked and got tickets to tour the Ford’s Theatre Museum and the home across the street where President Lincoln died. This Museum is run by the National Park Service, and I must say, they do a phenomenal job! This Museum is free of charge. The historical information provided to you as well as the exact timeline of both President Lincoln and John Wilks Booth’s day was fascinating. We enjoyed our picnic lunch on the steps of Ford’s Theatre before heading back across town for our tour of the Holocaust Museum.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was at the top of our list of favorite attractions. It is such a moving and emotional experience. You begin by receiving an identification card of an actual victim of the Holocaust, and you  pack into an elevator with tons of strangers. Everyone is reading their ID card, and as the elevator doors open, you hear the sound of Adolf Hitler’s voice. The fourth floor is where the tour begins, and it depicts the Nazi Assault and rise to power from 1933-1939. The atmosphere is completely silent other than the occasional sniffle or sob from those whose heart is aching at the amount of hate and innocent lives tortured and lost. As you descend to the third floor, a depiction of the separation ghettos and Jewish persecution, you are angry that letters to our President and other world leaders were sent before the war began begging for help by these Jewish people, yet they were completely ignored. We let them down. We failed God’s chosen people. It’s gut-wrenching, and by the end of the third floor, you’re completely sobbing as you see a pit of thousands and thousands of pairs of leather shoes recovered from a concentration camp. The second floor depicts the last chapter as tribute is paid to the many non-Jews that risked everything to help their brothers and sisters in need as well as the depiction of the Nazi’s last efforts to complete their plan by abandoning the concentration camps and conducting death marches until the Allied victory in 1945. On the first floor, you enter the Hall of Remembrance, where we said a prayer for Israel and its people as well as for our world. Admission to this Museum is free, but the experience was priceless!
After an emotional afternoon, we needed to chill and regroup. What better way to do that than by enjoying an incredible restaurant. Proper 21 was our best meal, by far. I do not recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a kid-friendly dining atmosphere. My children are well-behaved and enjoy all types of food, so I knew we would be fine. If you are a foodie, you will love this place. Their brilliant chef, Steve Forbes, has everything from Duck Confit to The World’s Greatest Sandwich on the menu. The crab dip appetizer was out of this world! Adam and I thoroughly enjoyed the World’s Greatest Sandwich, because when it’s on the menu, you have to try it! Banks ate every bite of his crab cake sandwich with fresh radicchio and their famous truffle fries, while Weston gobbled up their homemade mac and cheese and fresh fruit. The atmosphere was relaxed and young, the service was fantastic, and the food was phenomenal! I want to go back already!

We had been told how magical the memorials are at night. So, we ended day 2 with an uber ride to the WWII memorial, and from there, we walked to the Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and the reflecting pond. This is a must-see at night! The Vietnam Memorial was especially moving as it’s row after row after row of names and as you look at all these names, your reflection stares back at you on the stone, and you are aware of the sacrifices made for your individual freedoms as an American. Moving! After another 8-10 miles walked, we were ready for bed.

Day three began with a Metro ride to Arlington National Cemetery. This tied with the Holocaust Museum as our favorite attraction. I personally believe every American citizen and all those seeking American citizenship should visit Arlington. For miles and miles in every direction you look, all you see is headstones. They’re everywhere! We saw the Kennedy family’s graves, and then we had the privilege of experiencing the changing of the guard. This is incredibly humbling! Prepare for tears and sobbing again. After the changing of the guard, we enjoyed our picnic lunch on a park bench just outside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The cemetery is huge. So, be prepared for a lot of walking at this attraction too.

Our Day 3 afternoon was spent at The National Archives Building. There was no photography allowed in this building, but you will never forget the pride you feel as an American as you behold the United States Consitution, The Declaration of Independence, as well as the Magna Carta. These documents are incredible! There are also hand-written letters by George Washington, John Jay, and many others. This building also hosts the best gift shop, in my opinion, for those that enjoy touristy treasures to remember your trip by.

Needless to say, we were exhausted after a three day total of approximately 23 miles of walking. So, we ate supper at the hotel and turned in early due to the 14 hour drive home that was looming over us. Thankfully, the boys slept the majority of the way home, and we coordinated our gas, food, and bathroom breaks on the way home. So, we made great time.

Here’s a breakdown of how we did D.C. on a budget. We spent $180 on gas, $160 total for our hotel (so thankful for Adam’s job), $90 on Metro fair, $40 on parking, $80 at the wax museum (the only attraction we had to pay to see), and approximately  $285 on food. This brought our grand total for a six day vacation for a family of four to $835! We feel so thankful to be able to expose our children to such an awesome vacation. I highly recommend this trip to everyone. There is tons and tons of information on Pinterest to help you plan your trip as well as a lot of helpful information on the AAA website. We will never forget this incredible time we spent together as a family in our nation’s capital!

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Fall Breakin in the Mountains

There has been so much going on in my family over the past two weeks. So, there is really only one fair way to do this….write two posts๐Ÿ˜œ. To my faithful readers as well as my visitors, check back in tomorrow for another post.One thing my manclan has been begging to do is go camping. So, when you live in a house full of testosterone, you load up the van and head to the great outdoors! We knew Banks had his annual appointment with his pediatric neurologist on October 11, so we began googling campgrounds near Huntsville, and luckily we found Cloudland Canyon State Park. It was only an hour and a half from Huntsville, therefore we knew we could enjoy camping all weekend then load up on Monday morning and head to the doctor’s office before driving back to Dothan. We also knew camping would be an affordable option. There are not many four-day vacations that a family of four can enjoy at just under $100. I grew up camping nearly every weekend of my childhood, but I had never stayed at a campsite like this๐Ÿ˜ณ! You park your vehicle and hike about 1/4 mile to your campsite, and the only amenities are a leveled area for your tent and a firepit with a cooking grate over it. The closest comfort station, electricity, and fresh water was about 1/8 mile from our campsite. Now, thankfully, growing up, my mother was the world’s most organized camping wife. So, I learned a lot from her, and I was able to implement many of the same tricks she used, and spending my childhood watching my parents use camp stoves, lanterns, and clotheslines, I had no problem planning meals and organizing each person’s “bath house basket.” For a little TMI, when you are with a group of boys, and the nearest comfort station is 1/8 mile away, you learn to go #1 in the woods and only make that trek to the bath house when necessary. Following a cool night’s sleep in our tents, we spent day 2 hiking. We hiked a total of about 12 miles that day. Although all the waterfalls were dry, the scenery was majestic! I was so proud of Weston and my Chrissy! Weston rode in his stroller as far as the trail would allow, but he hiked a good 4-5 miles, and that’s a long way for his little legs. My Chrissy is part Beagle, part Bassett Hound, and her personality leans more toward a Bassett, but she loved sniffing out the trails, and she was an awesome hiking dog! While Weston preferred to stay on the ground, Banks was a mountain goat! If there was a place to climb, he found it! Have I mentioned that he is in incredible shape! I was planning my funeral at the end of the day, and once we got back to camp, he was still running up and down the side of the mountain with his Go-Pro strapped to him! We spent day three hiking a bit closer to our campsite. We discovered the cutest little bridge, a few very unique trees, as well as a strange bug or two! Day 3 was really special! Adam taught Banks how to make a campfire, and using only an axe, Banks chopped down a dead tree next to our campsite. Like I said, he’s in incredible shape! We had delicious meals the entire time, s’mores each night for Weston, and campfire smooches for my honey and me. 

Monday morning, we woke up with the sun, ate breakfast, packed up, and headed to Huntsville where Banks received an excellent report from his doctor. She even gave him the “go-ahead” to get his permit next summer when he turns 15, as long as he remains seizure-free, which we have total trust in God to keep him healthy.

Quite possibly the best part of the trip was the time we got to spend with Adam’s dad in Hartselle, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Huntsville. I am thankful for repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I am thankful to know my helpmate felt love. Mostly, I am thankful for over a year of answered prayers! 

To say the least, our fall break was wonderful! We cannot wait to plan our next trip, and anywhere my manclan leads, I will follow!โค๏ธ

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Proud Mommy Moments

This week has been filled with many proud mommy moments. Saturday night, Banks attended his first high school homecoming dance. 

He asked his friend from school to be his date, and she graciously accepted. He asked Adam if he would drive them to dinner and the dance in the Mustang, because “it is way cooler than the van.” Hahaha. So, of course, Adam obliged him, because he loves his son. 

Proud mommy moment #1 was due to Banks being an incredible gentleman. He opened the car door, pulled out her chair at dinner, and I was certainly proud of him. Chivalry shows character, class, and a good upbringing. It never goes out of style. Mary Catherine looked stunning, and I’m thankful that Jesus has placed such quality friends in Banks’ life.

Proud mommy moment #2 came Monday night at Banks’ last JV football game. He was has been a captain at the last two JV games. My number one, both on and off the field, has worked so incredibly hard to improve at the sport of football since last season. He spends every spare moment in the backyard running drills and practicing. He has had an incredible season! His talents have been noticed by not only the JV coaches but also by the varsity coaches. Most importantly, he maintained a humble and grateful attitude, giving all the glory to God, and on top of all that, he maintained all A’s and only 1 B while taking as many honors classes as possible. This kid shows more promise at 14 than most people do at 25.

Proud mommy moment #3 also occurred on Monday. When Weston’s teacher brought him to the car, she told me that there was a new student, and Weston took the kid under his wing and invited him to play and sit beside him. His actions also showed incredible character. I am so thankful that Weston showed love to his neighbor. My heart overflows with love for my manclan, and I feel blessed every single day to be the wife of an amazing man and the mother to the two finest young men in the world. ๐Ÿ’—

While I realize that all moms think their children are great, I just know that mine are exceptional. We may not have the most money or the finest home or the fanciest car, but none of those things reflect character. Possessing fine character is due to learned behavior, and the character my children have shown makes us the wealthiest family alive in my eyes. 

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Everyday I’m Hustlin

As I shared two weeks ago, I will be going on a mission trip to Austin, TX in June 2017. Mission trips are expensive, and as I was pondering ways in which I could help off-set the cost of this trip, my sweet friend Amber called me. She knows I enjoy cooking, and she also knows I am an excellent baker. So, she recommended that I sell my homemade, baked items throughout the holiday season.

After considering my friend’s idea as genius, I began compiling a list of my favorite holiday recipes. Then I began picturing the presentation of my goodies, what my menu would look like, and once Weston was down for his nap, I spent the next hour typing a rough copy of my menu. Due to Adam’s extensive knowledge in the catering and hospitality business, I knew that I would need to consult with him on pricing. 

So, without further ado, I present P 31’s Holiday Bakery!!!!!! What is P 31, you ask…It is the book and chapter in the Bible in which I have prayed to mold my life after for the last thirteen years. Being a Proverbs 31 wife, mother, and woman is extremely important to me. She is a lady that works diligently, and that certainly describes me. She also uses her talents as unto the Lord, which is what I am attempting to do with this holiday bakery. 

So, if you are in the Dothan area and are in need of some savory or sweet treats for a gift, family gathering, holiday party, or simply to enjoy, please contact me beginning October 1, with your order. I guarantee super yummy goodies made with love โค๏ธ.

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Uneventful Week…Uneventful Post

Oddly enough, it’s been a rather uneventful, slow week for my manclan and me. I went shopping with my mom this morning and told her that I did not really have anything to write about this week, and she said, “write about that.” So, for those of you that actually enjoy my blog, this is a post about nothing in particular. Hahaha๐Ÿ˜‚

Monday night, Banks had a JV football game, and he played great! He had two interceptions, some great blocks and tackles, and Houston Academy won! He was extremely proud of himself, as were Adam and I. Some of our friends from church came to watch him play, which made the great plays all the more exciting. Tonight, he will play with the varsity team in Goshen, AL, and then we will do it all over again next week. We love cheering for our Banks and the Raiders!๐Ÿ’™

Weston’s highlight of the week was singing in church on Sunday with his Mission Friends Class. They sang two songs, and he seemed much more interested in the flower arrangement than singing. Thankfully, he pulled it together by the last verse of the first song, and the entire group did a phenomenal job! I love getting to teach this group of kiddos every week! They make me smile!๐Ÿ˜

He also learned how to form the letters “L” and “O” at school this week. They use the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum, and it is amazing to watch Weston take cars, candy corn, and even his sweet little fingers to form the letters. The more I read about this curriculum, the more I love it. We are very proud of how much Weston is learning every week.

Adam and I have spent the majority of our time away from work, football, carline, church, etc… making a checklist and beginning to pack for our upcoming vacation to Cloudland Canyon State Park. We are very excited to spend fall break as a family in the mountains. I spent nearly every weekend of my childhood camping. So, this is nothing new for me. I’m thrilled to camp and hike with my manclan. One of the many things Adam and I have in common is our love for the outdoors. ๐Ÿ•

Well, as I explained earlier, this week was not quite as eventful as usual, but if everything were always the same, this life would become extremely boring. We have enjoyed this calm week and are looking forward to our last free weekend until the middle of November. Come back next week to see what my manclan and I have gotten into.๐Ÿ˜ƒ